American Heros: Flight 1549

Pilot of US Airways Flight 1549, Chesley (Sully) Sullenberger III and crew

The former Air Force fighter pilot remained cool, calm and collected both before and after successfully ditching his US Airways flight into the Hudson River.

“That pilot is a stud,” said one police source. “After the crash, he was sitting there in the ferry terminal, wearing his hat, sipping his coffee and acting like nothing happened.”

Sullenberger, 57, looks more like Clark Kent than Superman: He’s balding, slightly built, with a thin mustache. But he emerged from the slowly sinking fuselage of Flight 1549 as one of Gotham’s brightest heroes, able to land engineless airplanes in a single try.

“Brace for impact,” he warned the passengers before ditching the plane, a voice of lone calm in the seconds before they crashed.

Sullenberger wasn’t done once his plane was down. He undid his safety belt and walked the length of the plane to make sure all the passengers were safely outside, Mayor Bloomberg said.

Once finished, Sullenberger turned around and made a second pass as the plane steadily took on water – and only then did he finally exit.

“He did a masterful job of landing the plane in the river and then making sure everybody got out,” said an admiring Bloomberg, who is a licensed pilot.

John and Jane Garcia, neighbors of Sullenberger in Danville, Calif., weren’t at all taken aback by the pilot’s utter nonchalance.

“If you met Sully, you’d understand,” said John. “You’d say, ‘Yep, that’s Sully.'”

“It’s not surprising,” agreed Jane. “He’s a great guy.”

Leave a Reply